Sverre Bjertnaes: Silent Conditions

Sverre Bjertnaes: Silent Conditions 
Private View: Thursday 25 May 6-8pm
Exhibition 26 May - 1 July 2017 
Beers London presents ‘Silent Conditions’, the first-ever UK exhibition from the much-celebrated Norwegian artist Sverre Bjertnæs. In recent years, Bjertnæs has become one of the country's most renowned painters: the result of high profile exhibitions in the US; collaborations with Norway's enfant terible of the artworld, Bjarne Melgaard; and sell-out, critically regarded installations of his work at The Armory New York in both 2017 and 2016.  

For Beers, Bjertnæs continues his overarching oeuvre, with each exhibition as kinds of gesamtkunstwerks – artworks that make use of multiple art forms in order to deliver their message. Bjertnæs is increasingly interested in the narratives that form between his shows, claiming he has "grown more and more interested in the narrative that consists between different pieces in a show".Silent Conditions will continue this notion by transforming Beers London into aWunderkammer-like collection of works in wildly differing forms - many the result of collaborations between other artists and himself, such as a work with the aforementioned Melgaard.

Another such collabortation is the film ‘Memories of Us’, a collaboration with Norwegian dramatic writer Arne Lygre. The film typifies the kind of collaborative discourse that increasingly typifies Bjertnæs' practice; the film is a documentation of a performance by Lyre, which itself was based off ofBjertnæs sculpture in a previous show at Galleri Bandstrup, Oslo, in 2016. Other elements include a wooden Chaise Longue, a carpet made by Bjertnæs, and ceramics made especially for the show by him and his mother. However, we also see a painter who is continuously establishing his prowess and redefining his entire practice. There is an affinity to more traditional forms of image making, including a collaboration with Belgian artist Christer Glein wherein both artists worked interchangeably upon the same canvas. This sense of relinquishing a degree of artistic ownership marks a distinct change in Sverre’s approach to artmaking, and here it is a defining characteristic of the exhibition. 

Other paintings in the show include ‘Sculpture by the Sea I’ and ‘Baptism’. These continue Bjertnæs’ explorations into figurative abstraction, wherein organic figures, often somewhat creature-like in their appearance, reside in landscapes littered with geometric shapes and forms. There is a tendency toward emotional, naturalistic responses to self and nature - recalling the vivid literary landscapes of another famous Norwegian, playright Henrik Ibsen, whose Romantic, vaguely religious, and almost tortured visions seem to come to life throughout each of Bjertnæs' works. But for Bjertnæs, the paintings grow organically, throughout the image-making process, sometimes stemming from loose thoughts arriving from another artwork or personal experience. "I’ve started to believe in a more emotional and intuitive approach to art," he says, "for me, it’s the only way [we] can truly connect to any artwork."